Review Highlights

Virginia Symphony

The Virginian-Pilot; Feb 13, 2006


  • Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
  • Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
  • Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber

...Given the obviously limited time that Stringer had to work with the [Virginia Symphony], he deserves high marks for leading them through a firstrate performance of Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.”

It is a brilliantly orchestrated piece, to be sure, but it’s also Hindemith, which means a busy, even thick-sounding orchestral. Hindemith may have been having fun playing around with Weber’s music, but even on a fun day, Hindemith can often sound like he means business.

Stringer maintained steady tempos, which allowed the piece to build gradually and powerfully. He also seemed to strive for maximum clarity between the various sections of the orchestra, so that one could actually hear the score’s intricacies more easily. The orchestra played with a great deal of rhythmic definition, so that the muscularity of Hindemith’s music was present, but without unnecessary bulk.

Stringer managed to give [Brahms' Symphony No. 3] its deserved stature ....Stringer’s clear, even analytical approach allowed one to hear much of the symphonic logic of the piece – the way in which Brahms varied thematic material, passing it from section to section, sometimes turning it upside down in the process, and building big paragraphs of sound from the simplest of themes. ...Best were the two middle movements, where Brahms’ gentle and resigned melodies conveyed the mix of sadness and joy that is one of the composer’s special gifts. Stringer also managed the symphony’s quiet ending well, allowing the symphony to float away gently.

... In the “Horn Concerto No.1” by Richard Strauss, Stringer proved to be an able accompanist, keeping the orchestra safely out of VerMeulen’s way and allowing him to shine brightly in this youthful work. VerMeulen’s tone was large, full and substantial, and he brought a playful sense to the concerto....

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